Mario Alfredo Sandoval

30.04.2016 ( Last modified: 24.10.2018 )
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facts

Mario Sandoval was a member of the federal police force under the 1976-1983 Argentinean military dictatorship. He moved to France after the fall of the regime and obtained French citizenship in 1997. In France he obtained a doctoral degree in Political Science. He worked as a teacher in the Institute of Advanced Latin American Studies, at the University of Economics and Management of Paris, at the University of Marne-la-Vallée and at the French Intelligence Research Centre (CF2R). He was also a member of the International College of Philosophy.

Sandoval was allegedly involved in the disappearance of the student Hernan Abriata. On 30 October 1976 the young man was taken from the home of his parents by a man who presented himself as an officer inspector Sandoval from the federal police. He is also related to multiple other assaults such as unlawful deprivation of liberty, torture and acts constituting crimes against humanity committed in the Navy Mechanical School (ESMA).

In 2012 the Argentinian judge Sergio Torres opened an investigation for all the crimes committed within the Navy Mechanical School (ESMA), which operated as a clandestine detention centre during the country’s military dictatorship.

legal procedure

In 2012 the Argentinian judge Sergio Torres opened an investigation for all the crimes committed within the Navy Mechanical School (ESMA), which operated as a clandestine detention centre during the country’s military dictatorship.

On 15 March 2012, an international arrest warrant was issued by the Argentine justice for the arrest of Sandoval.

On 28 May 2014 the Paris Appeal Court agreed to extradite Sandoval. The judges decided that there was not enough evidence to extradite Sandoval to be judged for 600 cases of forced disappearances in the ESMA clandestine detention centre, but he could be extradited for Abriata’s kidnapping. The courtroom president explained that if found guilty, Sandoval can only be penalized with 15 years in jail, which is the maximum established in the Penal Code in 1976 for kidnappings. Sandoval appealed this decision.

On 18 February 2015 the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) overturned the ruling of the Paris Appeal Court allowing his extradition and ordered the Versailles Appeal Court to reexamine the case.

On 24 May 2018, the French Supreme Court finally allowed the extradition of Mario Sandoval to Argentina so that he can be judged for the enforced disappearance of Hernan Abriata in 1976.

On 24 October 2018, the decree allowing his extradition was signed.

context

In December 1986, the Argentinean Parliament adopted a law called “final point,” which set a statute of limitation of 60 days for offences against international law committed in Argentina.

In May 1987, Parliament approved a second amnesty law called “due obedience,” which exempted from trial all military subordinates who had obeyed orders. This left only about thirty high-ranked military officers to face prosecution. The only crimes not covered by this law – and for which subordinates could still be tried – was theft, rape and the kidnapping of children. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this law in June 1987.

By December 1990 the first amnesty decrees were signed.

In all, 1195 members of the military who had participated in the junta received amnesty: 730 because of the “final point” law, 379 with the “due obedience” law, 49 declared by the Supreme Court and 42 by amnesty decrees.

In mid-August 2003, the new Argentinean president, Nestor Kirchner, had the amnesty laws repealed and the absence of statutes of limitation for crimes against humanity recognized.

Prosecutions of those involved in the junta once again became possible in Argentina.

Twenty former military personnel are being held in Argentina for crimes committed within the framework of the “Condor” plan. The total number of soldiers in detention and charged under Argentinean law for human rights violations amounts to 120 – to which should be added two Argentineans held in Spain. Some of these proceedings concern cases where children were forcibly taken away at birth from their mothers who had been imprisoned for political reasons. In the opinion of the judges, the amnesty law never covered this crime. (Source: Le Monde, January 5, 2005).

On 14 June 2005, the Argentinean Supreme Court declared the Amnesty Law unconstitutional, by 7 votes in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention,– “Ley de Punto Final”; Ley 23.492- and the Due Obedience Law – “Ley de Obediencia debida”; Ley 23.521- sanctioned by President Alfonsin in 1987. The Court maintained that these laws violated article 75, paragraph 22 of the 1994 Argentinean Constitution, which gives constitutional status to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to the Genocide Convention, to the Torture Convention and to the Inter-American Convention, among others. According to the Court, following diverse decisions by the Inter-American Court and by other international bodies, the State has an obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those who have committed violations of the right to life, to humane treatment or those who have engaged in disappearances, an obligation which cannot be limited or abolished by the enactment of an Amnesty or Due Obedience Laws as ruled by the Inter-American Court in the case of Barrios Altos v. Peru.

This historical decision allows the domestic or international investigation, prosecution and punishment of members of the military suspected to have taken part in the torture, disappearance and/or killings of more than 30,000 persons in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

On 20 September 2006, during the course of the trial of Miguel Etchecolatz, the court for the town of La Plata used the term “genocide” for the crimes committed by the military dictatorship (1976-1983). It was the first time these crimes were qualified as genocide by a court, just like human rights organisations had long argued they should be. This legal qualification is now contained in the judgment against former police officer Etchecolatz, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for torture, murder and abduction of opponents of the regime.

The court emphasised that the crimes were committed in the context of a genocide campaign organised by the state. For future procedures against former members of the police force and the military, this view could be of crucial importance.